Listening

LVL UP — Hidden Driver

Heard Sub Pop’s LVL UP on All Songs Con­sid­ered as I drove to Cincin­nati last night. Not only are the per­fect for the per­son who’s still obsessed with Neu­tral Milk Hotel, but this song, “Hid­den Dri­ver,” is about a web­site co-found­ed by one of my very tal­ent­ed grad school class­mates, Astra Tay­lor! I’m excit­ed to hear LVL UP’s Return to Love at the end of next month.

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Listening

In Praise of Dinosaur Jr.

Have I real­ly not writ­ten any­thing about Dinosaur Jr. since this post? Seems so, apart from a pass­ing ref­er­ence in 2011 to J Mas­cis’ excel­lent Sev­er­al Shades of Why back in 2011. It’s crazy, because when I real­ly think about it, Dinosaur Jr. may be that band that some­how sur­vives every crit­i­cal hangup I ought to have about them.

I mean, I found things wrong with my favorites that makes it hard to under­stand how I ever loved them so much in the first place. R.E.M., neat­ly summed up in a 2-part pod­cast over at Shal­low Rewards, is one exam­ple. Pave­ment, Spoon and Son­ic Youth? Love them bare­ly ever lis­ten to them these days. Even bands I fell in love with as an adult, like Fiery Fur­naces, Liars and TV on the Radio feel dat­ed.

Some­how, I don’t feel the same way about Dinosaur Jr. Maybe it’s the unmis­tak­able crunchy riff­ing or the time­less­ness of J Mas­cis’ voice, but there’s some­thing deeply sat­is­fy­ing about them. I find myself return­ing to these records and Mas­cis’ recent solo work more often than I real­ize.

As sum­mer fades and fall draws near, I know I’ll be spend­ing more time with their lat­est record, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, like a favorite sweater.

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Listening

Eleanor Friedberger — Personal Record

I can’t believe I once hag­gled with Eleanor over the price of a Fiery Fur­naces t-shirt in the front of the Khyber…and that she accept­ed $10 instead of $15. Even hard­er to believe it was that long ago that the Fiery Fur­naces were crit­i­cal dar­lings, play­ing packed rooms and mes­mer­iz­ing fans with Matt’s musi­cian­ship and Eleanor’s swag­ger.

It’s great to see Eleanor break out and make real­ly love­ly pop records that should appeal to a broad­er audi­ence than prob­a­bly hears them. There’s no stand­out track to these ears after a few lis­tens, but I’m o.k. with that. I still enjoy putting a record on on Sun­day morn­ing, sip­ping cof­fee, flip­ping through the Home sec­tion on my Flip­board. Per­son­al Record is per­fect for that.

I know Matt Fried­berg­er would hate to have his music described as some­thing that doesn’t demand more from the lis­ten­er, but there’s some­thing to be said for music that doesn’t bounce around like a child throw­ing a tantrum. His solo stuff was nev­er that chal­leng­ing in the way he believed it to be. And the man­ner in which he drove fans away from the Fiery Fur­naces tar­nished the band’s lega­cy irrev­o­ca­bly.

Per­son­al Record finds Eleanor Fried­berg­er com­ing into her own after her equal­ly lush and love­ly Last Sum­mer.

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